Definition of penury in US English:



  • Extreme poverty; destitution.

    ‘he died in a state of virtual penury’
    • ‘It was her penury and negligence that let the house deteriorate.’
    • ‘But despite his outstanding gifts he's soon in penury again because the crocodile he has adopted is scaring off potential clients.’
    • ‘It is a miracle that her flimsy frame has been able to survive the extremes of weather, utter penury and the cruel sneers of her snobbish compatriots during her hellish ordeal.’
    • ‘It follows that you don't have to reduce yourself to utter penury.’
    • ‘He was reduced to living in penury in miserable exile in France; and on his return to York he was imprisoned for three months.’
    • ‘Living a life in penury, they have sold everything.’
    • ‘Perhaps it was unavoidable, yet it was a road that led past ruin, default and penury, through the plunder of Russia and the impoverishment of Russians.’
    • ‘Having been reduced to penury, struggling to survive, they no longer serve as an effective political opposition.’
    • ‘Price rises due to his stealth taxes have reduced thousands like me to utter penury.’
    • ‘In a globalized economy, it imposes penury on trading partners, especially the poorest countries.’
    • ‘If we all looked, acted, thought and behaved as badly as spammers do, our world would be reduced to desperate penury.’
    • ‘I will reduce myself to penury to save you from the evils of gambling, even if it means winning millions of pounds.’
    • ‘After slaving to bring up children and nursemaid a man while simultaneously working to boost the family's income, they are the ones left to live out a lonely and unglamorous old age in penury.’
    • ‘Even in the middle of penury, dreams remain colourful.’
    • ‘Women who believe they are in for a reasonable standard of living during widowhood, are to be step-by-step, reduced to penury.’
    • ‘Now, as then, a government is reducing its citizens to penury as they are deprived of their income and homes.’
    • ‘In overcoming that penury, modern technology as well as economic interrelations have been influential.’
    • ‘Bastille Day in France commemorates the French Revolution and reminds us of one of the most unpleasant and blood-soaked regimes ever to have reduced a country to penury.’
    • ‘Falling in love with a tea vendor could suit the infatuated young mind but when it comes to marriage she is able to visualise the agony of penury and gets out of the affair.’
    • ‘He was not a poverty-stricken peasant's son looking to escape penury.’
    dire poverty, extreme poverty, pennilessness, impecuniousness, impoverishment, indigence, need, neediness, want, destitution, privation, deprivation, hardship, beggary, bankruptcy, insolvency, ruin, reduced circumstances, straitened circumstances
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Late Middle English: from Latin penuria ‘need, scarcity’; perhaps related to paene ‘almost’.